Ragtime was a very popular genre of music between 1896 and 1920. There were both instrumental and vocal pieces in this genre. An essential characteristic of this musical genre was a syncopated rhythm which has become a staple to black music today. Ragtime began with coon songs. Coonery or cooning is defined as exaggerated ignorant or obnoxious behavior to exemplify the stereotypical views of Black people during the time. White people would perform coon songs in Black face to imitate Black “coons” Another important element of Ragtime was cake walks. Black slaves would walk around dancing foolishly to mock the way that the believed the white people acted. White people began gathering to see Black people compete in cake walks. The winner would receive a cake as a prize. I see this as the initial form of commodification of the genre although it did not technically involve any monetary profit. the true commodification of this genre took place when white people began taking the sheet music of ragtime pieces back to Europe and making slight changes and calling it their own. You could also say this is how ragtime influenced classical music. Socially, ragtime became the pop music of it’s time. It was exemplary of American music, and constantly played on radios. The most famous ragtime piece was Maple Leaf Rag written by Scott Joplin. Scott Joplin was one of the most famous Ragtime musicians ever. Other influential Rag artists include Jelly Roll Morton and Eubie Blake.


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